tv Second Look FOX December 5, 2010 11:00pm-11:30pm PST
. marijuana for nearly a century it's been at the center of controversy in california and we're going to look at how it became illegal and the efforts it make it legal and the people who profit from a crop that has gone unregulated and untaxed. in canada, marijuana is illegal, at least technically, but enforcement is more lax, that means you can find places as we did in 1998, where people
sell, buy and smoke unusual openly. >> reporter: in vancouver, british columbia, marijuana is officially illegal, but people smoke it openly. at the cannabis cavee where cigarette smoking is not allowed, customers come into to lunch and smoke pot. >> this is b.c. premium bud, the good stuff. >> reporter: the cafe doesn't sell pot, but customers can bring their open, roll a joint over coffee and smoke without fearing the police. how is that? >> oh, this is a pretty good find this stuff. it's pretty good. definitely the highlight of my trip to vancouver. >> reporter: the cafe's owners claim no one has ever been arrested here for smoking pot. when they are smoking is called b.c. bud grown right in british columbia. law enforcement officials call it the most potent marijuana they have ever seen with by far
the highest level of thc, the activity ingredient in pot. >> the marijuana that comes from mexico or thailand would run 4.5 or 5% thc. >> reporter: and this is how much thc? >> up to 25%. so it's fairly much a rocketship. take a whiff. >> reporter: it's very strong. authorities say b.c. bud is quickly becoming the favorite buddy of drug smugglers in british columbia. much is packaged in bags ready for sale and smugglers are making millions of dollars bringing it into the united states. the royal canadian mounted police say the price jumps the minute b.c. bud crosses the border. >> over here it's about $2,000 u.s. a pound and if you want to walk 15 feet it raises to about $3,000 u.s. a pound. >> reporter: and the price keeps climb as the pot moves south. canadian police say much of it
is ending up in major west coast cities including seattle, los angeles and san francisco where it carries a premium price. >> high grade canadian marijuana will be in a price level per pound between $5,000 and $8,000. >> reporter: u.s. custom agencies say they are now making arrests for smuggling every three days or so. agents say they have found pot hidden in spare tires and secret compartments of vehicles, all part of a major trade worth billions of dollars. easy money when the border is as wide open as this. the 5,000-mile stretch of land is the world's longest unguarded border. in many spots all that separates the two countries is a shallow ditch. how easy is it to cross the canadian border? here i am in canada and now,
i'm in the united states. it's a border with miles of lonely roads, perfect for drug smugging. >> they can drive up and toss it osa-cross or a body jumps out and they are gone. >> reporter: the u.s. border patrol says it doesn't have enough officers to stem the flow of marijuana, so they rely on residents to tip them off on smugglers. one of their contacts is a cattlele farmer. >> sometimes they try to jump the border at the end of the road and then they come and want to get towed out or whatever. i have done that a few times. >> reporter: a few miles away in vancouver, b.c. bud is easy to find out on the streets. a dope dealer approached us, offering to sell some pot. do you grow it? >> yes.
where do you grow it? >> in the basement at the house. >> reporter: and the punishment for it? >> they gave me ten days. >> reporter: that is it? >> yes. >> reporter: growing mostly clear at home is a cottage industry, the growers emboldened by services. >> we have had one individual tell us that he made over $240,000 in less than to month's work by renting out two flats, two homes. >> still to come on "a second look," how drugs coming into the united states is paying for a deadly cargo going back to mexico's' drug war. and a little later, marijuana became el legal in california a hundred years ago and the reason behind the law for a substance few knew about and fewer were using.
money has gone into stopping the flow of illegal drugs from mexico into the ut, but there is another illegal cargo that is going the other way. guns. and it's a key supply line in the deadly war carried out by mexican drug cartels. ktvu's mareen naylor first brought us this report last year. >> reporter: authority say a so- called iron river of firearms is flowing from nevada and california to mexico, a lucrative side business for the the violent and powerful mexican drug cartels. >> this is an ak-47-type of rival and the resale value in mexico would be well over $1000. >> reporter: gabriel with the u.s. drug enforcement agency says the cartels buy their money with cash from drug sales. money from drugs sold in the bay area is most often delivered to the cartels in specially outfitted cars, who use the money to bide weapons. >> they conceal compartments in the back of the cab, on the
back, the side panels. i have seen that. wheel barrows. >> reporter: , such as this one in livermore, where the dea says it seized a massive amount of cash three years ago. holes were cut off the out from the frame of the truck, which had almost $1 million stuffed inside. authorities say that money was linked to 220 pound of cocaine and estimate that a load like this comes into the areaness a month. nine men were arrested following the seizure. >> they use the same corridors to traffic the narcotics and traffic the weapons south. >> reporter: he works for the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives and he says seven of these high powered 50-caliber rivals are sold every month in reno. gun laws are much more strict in mexico. a country with less than 5,000
permitted weapons and because it is difficult to get them legally, u.s. guns bring big money in mexico. sniper rivals valued at $8,000 in the u.s., sell for thee times as much in mexico. last year federal authorities recovered about 7,000 firearms in white sox and say about 90% of them traced back to the u.s. so how are they getting them? one way is by paying people without criminal histories to buy the guns. >> we have had cases involving teachers, people that are housewives, professionals, homeless people. >> reporter: including several cases recently in las vegas where authorities say more than 100,000 dollars was provided for a specific shopping list of desired weapons. this man is charged with illegal firearms dealing involving 28 guns, including half a dozen 50-caliber rifles.
>> there were probably 75 or 80 guns recovered out of that and the result of that, we identified three purchasing conspiracies in state of washington, arizona and in california. >> we have been able to identify rings of people who have been going into gun shops and purchases these guns on behalf of the of the cartels. >> reporter: last month more than a legend drug smuggler were arrested. along with heroin and crack cocaine and sawed-off shotguns. >> we saw a direct connection back to mexico and the drug trafficking cartels, where certain select members of the gangs were being used to assist in the narcotics distribution network here in the bay area. >> reporter: in last month as bay area raids, investigators said they arrested two people
for transporting more than $350,000 in southern california. >> the moneys that this were generating from the trafficking were being returned to mexico. >> reporter: a three-hour shoot thatout between the mexican military and gang members killed a police captain. atf traced those weapons. >> there were 50-caliber rifles recovered. mexican cartels, u.s. weapons, bay area gangs and millions of dollars, a circle of death that authorities here are hoping to break. when we come back on a "a second look", where is the money going from the medical marijuana industry and we trace the history of marijuana laws in california.
it and where has long been unclear. last year kutv's mick mibach looked into the growing, selling and buying of medical marijuana here in carriage. >> reporter: alameda county, summer 2009, these people are armed now. it's changed in the last decade. >> reporter: deputies pulled 15,000 marijuana plants from niles canyon. >> arm themselves with high powered rifles. abrugler15s and semi-automatic gloks rip current the california baur of narcotics said in 2007 it destroyed 4.9 million pot plants in california and in 200, 5.3 million and with the supply so high, so too is the demand, feeding the frenzy, according to law enforcement agencies, cannabis clubs. it is just that knope see seems to know where they are getting their pot from and how big that side of the business actually is. this man once rapped about how
much cash he made for soleling medical marijuana in modesto and challenged federal authorities to go after them. they it and he was sentenced to 21 years in prison. federal prosecutors argued that his collective brought in $9 million in two years and said most of that time his dispensary operated as for- profit, violating state law. >> the dispensaries don't tell us exactly where their product is shipped from. they want to make sure that they have a continuous supply. >> reporter: the state attorney general's said when buying cannabis "collectives and cooperatives should track and record the source of their marijuana." two bay area dispensaries that granted us interviews admit they had and many others do not. >> we don't keep those types of records. >> reporter: do you keep records of who you buy from? no. >> reporter: why? >> because we have been
advised by an expert cpa. this is the executive director from sebastopol and says collectives can buy cannabis only from non-profit growers, when are also patients of that collective. jacobs said because the growers are patients, the records, if they are even kept, are confidential. >> we're protecting patient data just we're purchasing medicine from patients and we maintain hipaa compliance. when those people are safe from unjust prosecution that is a process we'll be able to do. >> reporter: the obama administration announced it will not interfere, but get tough with those posing as medical marijuana providers. marin county task force says this is a classic case. this affidavit that ktvu obtained indicates that the officers stopped hip him for speeding and found 20 pounds of marijuana inside three bags. he told the officers he sells
cannabis to medical marijuana dispensaries. doug rapport is the attorney. >> that is the allegation in this case that he delivers from point a to point b? >> reporter: does he? >> you can't ask me that question. >> reporter: they served the home and found two safes, one containing $100,000 in cash and the other, $650,000 in cash. in other homes investigators say they found evidence of three marijuana grows and $50,000 in class. the affidavit accuses him of running a drug ring, an accusation he denies, but does admit to sell marijuana to three specific marijuana dispensarys. the berkeley group. >> reporter: were you expecting medicinal marijuana from him? >> not that i know of. >> the task force with search
warrants in hand looked for perfect documents at the three dispensaries, but once there were told no such documents exist. when they went looking for the avery documents at the dispensaries what saved everybody is the fact that they kept no records. >> reporter: prop 215 states that collectives, cooperatives or individuals cannot profit from the sale or distribution of major. they would like to see them supply accidenceries in a transparent way. >> right now dispensaries don't have a whole lot of control where the cannabis comes from, how it's cultivate order financial controls to ensure that the cannabis is being produced and processed in a way that is a not-for-profit. >> reporter: mendicino county, to some folk it's known as the undiscovered county, swept with rugged natural beauty, lush redwood forest, rolling hills and marijuana. lots of it. >> this is my budding area.
>> reporter: this is 74-year- old who says he suffers from glaucoma. >> i can't afford to buy it, so i have to grow my own. >> we have become the epicenter for marijuana cultivation in the country. >> reporter: he says he is tired of seeing commercial pot growers come into his county, get rich and not pay taxes all while using the medical marijuana law as a cover. >> a lot of bad apples have come into the county. they don't grow marijuana despite the fact illegal. they grow marijuana because it's illegal. >> reporter: do you see a lot of legal stuff out there? >> yes, i see a lot of legal and illegal stuff. >> reporter: 17-year-old marco aragon says he trims marijuana plants for growers. why? he says it's hazard to turn down $20, double what he makes sweep a factory floor. >> it's all about the money. >> i have different ailments
that it helps them all. >> reporter: he sees the issue in his own way and grows marijuana at home,25 plants indoors and outdoors says it's all for mechanical purposes. >> this are growers growing hundreds and hundreds of plants that they don't even touch. they are growing them out in the boonies and that is who had he should go after, not us. >> reporter: he says it's the government's responsibility to regulate and they say that the growing and buying part of medical marijuana could remain in the shadows. when we come back on second, few knew what it was and even fewer used it, so why did california outlaw marijuana nearly 100 years ago?
marijuana laws both in california and across the country. >> reporter: if you lit up a marijuana cigarette on san francisco's market street at the turn of the 20th century, two things would have been different from today. first, it was legal, and second, hardly anyone would have known what it was, because marijuana use was almost unheard of at that time in the united states. that is why it seemed a little strange that california passed one of the first anti-marijuana laws in 1913. this is the california coordinator for the national organization for the reform of marijuana laws. >> you read the newspapers from 1913 or before, you will find almost no mention of cannabis or indian hemp. the word "marijuana" was basically unknown. >> reporter: a member of the board of pharmacy, he
spearheaded california's first anti-marijuana law. >> it was his idea that californias a anti-narcotics law, which predates the federal narcotics law should be as comprehensive as possible. >> reporter: he seemed particularlyern canned with a recently arrived small group of intel pentium grants from east india, known to smoke cannabis. in a letter to federal authorities he wrote, "they are a very undesirable lot and the habit is growing in california very fast. the fear is now thatter initiate our whites into this habit." the anti-immigrant fear heightened even more as the mexican revolution sent many of that nation's citizen into the united states. marijuana came across the border with some of them and some of the u.s. fighters coming home from fighting with pancho villa. many of the early anti- marijuana laws seemed tied to the fear of foreigners. for example, san francisco enacted the first anti-
narcotics law in the united states in 1875, outlaw opium dens. >> it was directed at the chinese and in 1914 they made a display of destroying opium pipes in front of city hall. many of the america's first anti-marijuana laws came in state where's mexican citizens migrated in search of work just california, texas, new mexico, colorado and montana. others came in northeastern states, such as network. states with few mexican immigrants, but instead as a fear that they outlawed cocaine, heroin, morphine, people would turn to marijuana as an alternative. still there was no national law against marijuana, that is until 1937. the 13--year national prohibition against alcohol had ended four years earlier. and led by the head of the
federal bureau of narcotics, the country turned its attention to other drugs. in 1936 a film called "reefer madness" dramatized a popular contention around drug law advocates that marijuana use drove dope-smokers to crime and violence. despite opposition from the american medical association, the marijuana tax act of 1937 sailed through congress. after a stunningly short two hours' of committee testimony it came to the floor of the house, where one congressman asked what was all about? speaker same rea burn said, "it has something to do with a thing called marijuana. i think it's a narcotic of some kind." the bill passed easily in both the house and senate and president roosevelt signed it with little public attention. in california, there were few marijuana arrests over the next
two decades, but in the mid- 1960s the numbers rose dramatically, increasing ten fold from 1962 to 1967. >> there are more and more people who are turning on everyday and learning how to use this in a good fashion. the courts will sich life have to recognize this. >> in 1968, 50,000 marijuana arrests accounted for more than half of the drug prosecutions into the states. in the 19 80s even as federal enforcement got tougher, marijuana became one of the california's top cash crop, making work for a lot of enforcement agents. that is it for this week's "a second look." i'm frank somerville. we'll see you next week.